Rub' Al Khali

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The voice on the other end of the phone quarantines her to despair. Black's eyes fill with brine. It flows out slowly like petroleum, crystallizing to her cheeks. The lump in her throat grows like a tumor and refuses to let go. She inhales the air. It smells like fallout and tastes like antifreeze. She can hear whispers booming off in the distance, stifled under artillery, oil drills, and the possessive quiet of the desert. She drops her phone into the grainy sand. It sinks.

Silhouettes shimmer in the heat, circling around her like buzzards whispering false reassurances to her. She reaches out to embrace one of the shadows. It dissipates into a cloud of ash. Another shadow takes its place. She tries to embrace this shadow. She jumps back in disgust as the shadow turns into the ugliest vulture Black has ever seen. The circling shadows are much closer now, dancing around her like crazed tribesmen, their whispers oscillating around the ever changing dunes. She reaches for another shadow, this time it dissipates into thousands of camel spiders and fat tailed scorpions. She stands there, encased in fear as they creep all over her, infecting her with opiates. Her shock is now numbed into silent sadness. The shadows keep circling her.

She embraces another, this one melts into petrol and ignites under the unforgiving sun. It leaches all over her, lighting her on fire. She runs screaming in agony to another shadow hoping this one will save her. This one condenses into dirty water, alleviating her of the fire. Growing hopeful, she reaches out for the next shadow, but this shadow disappears before she can even reach it. She reaches for one shadow after another.

All but one disappears. The last shadow was still circling her, wobbling and contorting in the intense heat wave. However, Black now knew that the shadows wouldn't help her. And if the shadows wouldn't help her, then no one would. All she could do now is face the emptiness of the Rub' Al Khali.

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